C-Suite Advisory

Manage Expectations and Maintain Harmony With Open, Authentic Communication

Grant Botma

When I was just out of high school, my friends and I loved going to punk rock shows. Sometimes, at the smaller shows, we’d get to see or even hang out with the band afterward. 

We thought it was cool to grab their set list—the list of songs they played, in the order they planned them—to keep as a souvenir of the show. Usually this was just handwritten on a piece of paper, though bigger bands with larger productions would have their set list on a computer with a screen they could see from the stage.

No matter how it was written, a set list tells everybody in the band what they’re going to do that night—what song they’re going to open and close with, the breaks they’ll take between sets, the different flow of energy throughout the whole show. It’s a vital tool, because it keeps everyone on the same page and prepared for what is coming next.

In other words, the set list is a crucial piece of communication that keeps the band in harmony. Without it, things would descend into chaos. But that kind of communication isn’t just for band members playing a concert. You need to learn to communicate in a way that manages expectations and maintains harmony, too—with your staff, your team, and most of all, your family.

Make Your Communication Intentional

Set lists allow a band to intentionally design their ideal show, determining where to start and end, where they want higher-energy songs and where to slow it down a bit, where to sprinkle in the crowd favorites and where to try something new. By doing this work ahead of time, planning out the set list, everybody knows what to expect. 

And if, once they’re playing, they decide to change something, the band has a quick chat, crosses out one song, and updates the set list, whether that’s between shows or even between sets. They don’t expect it to be perfect; there’s always room to make adjustments.

That’s what you should aim for when you are communicating with your team, whether that’s your team at work or your team at home. Just like a band does, you must be intentional about your communication, and it has to be as clear, open, and complete as possible.

Avoid Discord and Tension

Without clear communication, things quickly go off the rails. Discord and tension occur.

For example, when your family has no idea what’s happening at work and your work has no idea what’s happening at home, guess what? Everyone involved gets frustrated. 

If my wife thinks that I’ll be home by five but I don’t show up until six, she’s going to be frustrated. She’s been home all day with little kids, and she’s been watching the clock, ready for a break. She may not have set the expectation that she wanted me home by five—but I also failed to set the expectation that I would be home at six.

Similarly, if my team expects me to arrive at nine every morning, but one day, without saying anything to anyone, I just don’t show up until two in the afternoon—even if it’s for a completely legitimate reason like a doctor’s appointment—it’s not going to lead to a harmonious environment.

These are day-to-day examples, but if allowed to fester, issues like this will only exacerbate the problem on a larger scale. If that happens, it can lead to even more serious problems.

Achieve Harmony by Setting Expectations

Think about it: if expectations aren’t managed on an annual basis—for example, if your family has no idea when the busy seasons are for your work—it’s difficult for them to keep going. It becomes almost impossible for them to keep sacrificing and supporting you, because there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.

Imagine if you asked your family to sing a note at the top of their lungs. They love you, so of course they’ll do it if you really want them to. But if you don’t tell them how long they have to sing, it will be hard for them. 

It will become hard for you, too, because at some point they’re just not going to be able to sing anymore. You’ll become frustrated because you asked them to sing and they stopped.

The problem here isn’t that they stopped, though; it’s that you didn’t tell them how long to sing. You can eliminate that problem, and even more importantly, bring harmony to your work and your life, by managing expectations.

Create an Ideal Year Calendar

How do you manage expectations? I have found the best way to do that is by creating an ideal year calendar. The ideal year calendar helps set expectations on a big scale. More than anything, this ideal year calendar is the number one conversation tool or trigger point to have a conversation with your family to let them know why you’re going to be busy. 

It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It could be something as simple as saying, “Hey, Daddy’s going to be busy because I’m speaking at this event in a couple of weeks. I’ll be really tired and it’s going to take a lot of work, so I’m going to need your support during that time. But afterwards, we’re going to celebrate together, at the beach! And on the way we can talk about all the people we’re making an impact on.”

Communication is going to look different for different families, for different people of different ages, and even for different seasons of life. But the principle of making the effort to communicate and manage expectations remains the same. When we don’t communicate effectively, expectations go unmet.

Stay on the Same Beat

Just like a band playing a concert, if my family or work team tries to sing the same song I’m singing but with a different beat, it’s not going to sound good. In fact, it will be downright bad.

But, when we sing together, with the same beat, the same rhythm, the same tune—which we’re all clear on because we’ve communicated it clearly beforehand—we make beautiful harmony. Communicating openly, especially with a calendar, allows us to share what we want our life to look like. And, like a set list, it ensures that everyone is always on the same page.


Written by Grant Botma. For more advice on how to create an ideal year calendar, you can find Work-Life Harmony on Amazon.

Have you read?
Watch Out for Interpersonal Blind Spots: What Relationally Intelligent CEOs and their Employees Need and What They Must Avoid by Dr. Adam C. Bandelli.
Daydreaming- How To Reinvent Your Business Through Imagination by Mitche Graf.
AI and Robots Are Coming – To Drive Human Spirit by William E. Halal.
Business Leaders Must Evolve Beyond ‘Ethics’ to Politics by Dr. Joe Zammit-Lucia.

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Grant Botma
Grant Botma is a husband, father, and Arizona native who has worked in the personal finance industry since the age of fifteen. He took a stand against financial injustice by forming Stewardship, a group of companies serving his community with wisdom and love through home loans, insurance, and investments. Included twice on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies, Stewardship’s success stems from Grant’s personal philosophy of harmonizing work and family life. He is a business owner, bestselling author, keynote speaker, and family man who is on a mission to “love others.” Grant is the Author of the new book, Work-Life Harmony: Enjoy Your Life and Family More Because of (Not in Spite Of) Your Work (Stewardship Production LLC; January 6, 2022).


Grant Botma is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with him through LinkedIn.